Pub Review: The Crown, Victor Harbor

If petite bread rolls are doughy joy then the frisson when these arrive fresh from the oven is seismic. Surely a clear sign of a caring god, or at least, and this is not a given in our state, reliable electricity.


This unexpected bliss began our Friday night meal at the Crown Hotel. Driving into Victor Harbor as the wide bay swims into happy view I wondered how our boys hadn’t been here previously for an extended visit, yet had holidayed to the Bavarian Alps, artistic Left Bank in Paris and Murray Bridge’s world-class Bunyip.


Having checked-in at our caravan park digs and positively appraised the bunk beds, bouncy pillow and decidedly Alaskan pool, we drove to Warland Reserve with its twin pubs standing sentinel over the foreshore.


Upon presenting our boisterous trio at the bistro, the pub staff now appraised us silently and then did what I’d do which is to quarantine us in a corner away from the quiet, undeserving diners. In hospitality speak I’m sure this is some form of pre-emptive damage control. There was an American college football game on TV, but disappointingly it didn’t feature Purdue. It was Boise, Idaho’s finest.


Our boys were drawn instantly and they assured me, ravenously, to the salad, bread and vegetable bar. It would’ve been easier to stop an aspiring reality television star (read: talentless, vacuous type) from taking a selfie.


Pleasingly, their lemonades were served in sturdy plastic cups. You know, the coloured models that you used at your cousins’ place for cordial after you’d been running about or chucking rocks at your footy, now stuck at the top of a eucalypt.


As a fan of haute cuisine, Max chose the Italian-Hawaiian-Irish fusion. Unfortunately, when his ham and pineapple pizza and chips arrived, despite his father’s sobbing implorations, he was chock-a-block with hot bread rolls. I had the pizza on Saturday, save for the solitary bite Max had taken.


Boise was constantly handing the ball back to their opponents as they couldn’t get their passing or running games to fire. Out the window, and across the reserve I could see the lights of the amusements and the Ferris wheel.


I trusted that the obilgatory dog would be there, mangy and weeing and roaming about in a vaguely menacing way when we visited in the morning and like a drunk punter, I forked over wads of cash to a carnie.


As a ten-year-old Alex is on the cusp of moving from kid’s meals to adult portions, and this causes me emotional if not fiscal despair. But tonight, he’s happy to tackle the nuggets.


When served they’re not the traditional ones shaped as rectangles or ovals: these are in the form of dinosaurs confirming what archaeologists having been telling us forever which is that if we visit Jurassic Park, take down a T-Rex, and cook it, it will, of course, taste like chicken. He inhales them as if he’ll soon need the energy to outrun a velociraptor.


Continuing our involuntary theme of transmogrified chicken my Kiev arrives. It’s been a while and my excitement had risen, like that of a rooster when sunrise is imminent over the henhouse.


While the Ukrainian origins of my chook were nebulously accurate I think its hatching was not in Kiev but more precisely 142 kilometres to the north of the capital in Chernobyl.


I suspect the meal may have come directly from reactor number 4 itself. How else to explain the impossibly dry and disastrously crunchy properties, other than thermonuclear accident?


I felt especially sorry for the cold garlic butter that had presumably been once trapped in this poor poultry, all trace now gone, doubtless a victim of irradiation’s cruel physics. I may have been better off with the amusement park hound.


Luckily, I hadn’t downloaded a Geiger counter app to my phone or it would’ve now been clicking away like a barn full of tap-dancers, attempting a world record.


Still, we all survived and retired to our cabin. The footy was about to start and the weekend was upon us. We were in front.


Afterall, we’d had hot bread rolls.


About Mickey Randall

Favourite film: The Shawshank Redemption Favourite song: Khe Sahn Favourite holiday destination: Gold Coast Favourite food: steak Favourite beer: VB Best player seen: Dogga Worst player seen: Frogga Last score on beep test: 3.14159 Favourite minor character in Joyce’s Ulysses: Punch Costello


  1. Loved it Mickey v amusing and you certainly took us all along for the ride to the Crown

  2. Yet again, I really enjoyed this tale, Mickey.

    The only time I was ever in Victor Harbour, in January 1988, my mate Tucky and I detoured from adelaide on the way home to Melbourne. We sat in a pub (not sure which one) and watched Mike Tyson pummel Larry Holmes.

    There is a Geiger-counter app?

  3. Not impressed. No mention of drinks. Or golf courses with high perched first tees, ensuring that even the most modest drive would soar before plummeting. Or trots – scene of many summer holiday debacles.
    Trip Advisor rates “Hotel Crown” (putting on the dog with the name inversion?) #39 of 41 eating establishments in the municipality. I was looking forward to your reviews of #40 and #41, but they have closed due to typhoid.
    At least tell me you went home the back way and dropped into Langhorne Creek to pick up a cleansing box of Bleasedale Sparkling Shiraz (best value SS on the market).

  4. Peter Crossing says

    I can verify that The Crown is a two schooner pub while waiting for a pizza from the place over the road.

  5. Thanks ‘Book.

    Smokie- Geiger counter app? I hope so! A colleague in England told me he was quitting not only his job but teaching and going back to Ireland and then he paraphrased the famous Tyson quote which made me laugh – “I cannot do this no more, I am not going to lie to myself. And I am not going to embarrass this sport. This is a great sport. This is a sport that has taken men with pretty humble lives and humble beginnings and put them in the position to rub shoulders with royalty. I am not going to embarrass this sport anymore.”

    PB- the 1st at Victor is one of the great holes and views. To stand on that tee, take a deep breath, drink in the view, feel the anticipation of some golf and fellowship, and a beer at the end is just magnificent. I must get down there soon for a swipe.

    Peter- that’d be Nino’s. I reckon that might be the go next time. We also did a lap of Granite Island and it was fun with all the rock outcrops and installation art.

  6. Good work Mickey. Victor Harbour has been on the bucket list for a while, though unsure when we’ll get there. Plan is to get to Robe this year.

    Mickey if you can recommend a hotel/motel in Robe we’d be appreciative.


  7. Thanks Glen. Tragic confession no 46: I’ve never been to Robe. However, I’m sure others on this site have and can help you out. It may be that I’ll need your suggestions down the track!

    Nobody loves a pedant, but… In keeping with South Australia’s curious identity I must point out that for some reason as many as six of our state/colony’s harbours were spelt the American way which omits the “u” including Victor and Outer Harbors. Perhaps those running the show thought that not only would we be proudly convict-free, but also proudly redundant vowel-free. That or a poorly educated surveyor-general.

  8. MR, I’m starting to question if you even know what you’re doing dragging your two little guys to every possible public house this side of the temperance league and possibly family court injunction. Is it to lead them to some hops based enlightenment or to indulge your weekly pub/beer/insulated beverage container advertising (or as you insist, reviews)?

    I’m not sure as an educator that you grasp the nettle of evidence based best practice child rearing. Oh I’m not that concerned about a crap pub in Victor Motor Habour. What really had me chewing on my hat was the purchase of a ham and pineapple pizza. Shame man shame. Did we learn nothing from our own reckless upbringing? Why, I oughta call the Fair Dinkum Pizza Police myself.

    That is all and good day to you.

  9. *my client wishes to enter no plea.

  10. Mark 'Swish' Schwerdt says

    Late to this Mickey.

    Last time we had a meal down there, it was at the more salubrious Hotel Victor, having lunch with a school mate’s parents. They had retired to the bonzerly named McCracken Estate and we made a point of catching up with them as often as we could. I was in a crappy mood, having dinged the rental car after having declined insurance, but I cheered up once the ye olde roast pork and gravy hit my plate.

    The next time we were down there was for Mr Hammo’s funeral, followed by a wake at the same establishment.

    We had a year 10 camp at the Salvos establishment near the trotting track around the time the Free George Davis mob ruined Rick’s first ton.

    Ahh Victor. It’s a bit pissweak, but it’s our pissweak.

  11. Thanks Swish. That’s a mixed bag of memories there.

    I’ve often wondered why Victor hasn’t earnt one of those, well, you know, pissweak appellations like Victor Harbor: the Antibes of the Fleurieu, or Victor Harbor: SA’s own Fort Lauderdale, or Victor Harbor: the Southend-on-Sea of the south.

    My other wierd recollection of Victor Harbor is when Ross Gibbs (sire of Bryce) played footy down there and I’d check the scores in the Sunday Mail to see the size of the bag he’d kicked. It was regularly in the teens.

  12. Mickey we were recently over in your state.

    The last time i ventured into there coincided with Bill Lawry’s test team arriving in the Veldt for a 4-0 drubbing. I was a very young lad then.

    Anyhow nigh on half a century later we spent time in Robe. Two really nice pubs. We stayed at the Caledonian Inn,a very welcoming, friendly establishment. Good rooms, nice meals, and some cold drinks were appreciated.

    Our serious drinking and punting took place at the Robe Hotel. Again very friendly staff, good drinks, though your Unibet TAB is a bit,um, antiquated in betting options.

    Robe was lovely, with two very nice hotels. I’ve now drank in South Australia, the Northern Territory remains my last frontier.


  13. Well played Glen. As previously confessed I’ve yet to roam to Robe. Sounds like it was most satisfactory. Having gone from the TAB to Unibet a few years’ back I understand the betting provider in SA will return to its traditional name of TAB. Can’t imagine this will aid the punt.

    Good luck with getting to the NT. I venture up there regularly for work and always enjoy it. I’m not sure that the pubs are especially charismatic, but they’re certainly functional. Humpty Doo is fun and there’s some good options in Darwin down by the water. This may seem uncharacteristic but the Stone House wine bar in the CBD was a good surprise- all exposed brick and ambient decor. Worth a look if decidedly un-pub like.


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